Can you describe your job in a few lines?
Duck and Dry is a beauty brand with a chain of blow dry bars. It’s all about styling in a social concept. People coming together with friends, a glass of prosecco and beautiful hair.
We have a range of clients from people who want weekly blow dries before or after work, to people who come in for special occasions. We also have a product line that we sell in salons and are now available for everyone to style their hair with at home. We are very passionate about our styling products because that’s what we use to create blow-dries day in and day out. We are franchising the concept as well – we have a couple of franchises open in London already and are currently looking to expand internationally.
What inspired you to start your business and when?
I founded Duck & Dry eight and a half years ago opening our flagship store in Chelsea on King’s Road. At the time, most London hair salons were very traditional and I wanted to bring a lot more experience based and brand-led concepts to hair styling. I come from an entrepreneurial family and I’m an only child so there was always business talk around the dinner table and the thought of starting a business was always at the back of my mind.
What were you doing before?
I graduated from London School of Economics with a management degree, and I was a management consultant in finance. So nothing hair or beauty related! I approached the business from a consumer perspective: What would I like to see? Where would I want to get my hair done? What is missing in London? How can we do it better?
I was also always interested in the power of the brand. What does the brand allow you to do? Duck and Dry was never meant to be a one-off salon business. Over the last eight years, I have experimented a lot with how the brand can grow and the different revenue streams it can bring.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
I think when you start a business everyday is a challenge to make sure it survives, especially the first few years. But as time goes by, there are added challenges. For example, I learned that sometimes you just attract people who work easily with you, but other times you might need to adjust your managerial style. Finding my leadership style and my people has probably been the biggest learning experience for me.
What are your weaknesses?
I think I struggle with finding the balance between give and take. As a founder, it’s easy to be so involved in the day to day and the constant grind of running a business on a granular scale that you forget the broader, bigger picture. Or sometimes I get into the mode of business growth and development and come up with all these ideas and growth plans without going down to that granular level. I get lost multitasking the micro and macro level of running a business.
What does the future look like for the business?
World domination! I have so many ambitions for the brand and its future. We work really hard to put all the pillars in place. From unique branding, our own software that we built from scratch, to our own product line, looks and training. Building a strong foundation that I hope will allow it to accelerate. Franchising is a big part of what we are trying to do. I believe it’s very important for a salon to have hands-on management, someone who truly cares within each place. We have more products in the pipeline and are looking to grow the line. Our salons are where the ideas are born from everyday styling. We also test all our products with our own in-house stylists and with our clients. It is a very exciting and natural process. We are speaking to a number of partners to look into a concession model where it will be a mini salon within beauty halls. But most of all, I would love to see the brand outside of London.
Yulia wears our Lyndhurst White Blouse, £115 (Right)
Any styling tips for the working women?
Yes, I am extremely passionate about styling products! I think about 80% of women only use shampoo and conditioner in their routine.
Our products aim to enhance and elevate the hair routine to the level of their makeup and skin routine. Hair is a big part of every woman’s look and identity but is often overlooked.
We would rarely dream of just splashing our face, popping on some moisturizer, and then leaving the house, which is exactly what the majority of women are doing with their hair.
A lot of our clients find hair products tricky to understand or are worried about making their hair heavy or greasy. My one piece of advice for working women is that hair products have moved on.
Our products are specifically developed for a weightless feel, no residue, no grease, and do not make your hair heavy. They enhance your natural hair to its better version.
You want volume? Use a volume spray. If you want a tussled look, a sea salt spray is amazing and ours is made with pure extract of seaweed. They are made to make your hair last. Think of it like makeup for your hair. Embrace hair products!
Heels or flats?
I absolutely adore heels. I am not tall, so I really feel like heels lift me up and empower me. But as a mum on a school run, I would choose flats.
Hair up or hair down?
Since I started Duck and Dry, blow dries! So, hair down, especially if it’s done professionally.
Interviewer: Libby Smith, Flora Kirby
Photographer: Olivia Bossert
Location: Duck & Dry, The Kings Road, London
Accessories: Yulia's own
Hair: Duck & Dry